Fall 2013 Snowdrops and Camellias

Nursery Happenings: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

Camellia x 'Long Island Pink'‘Long Island Pink’ fall-blooming hardy camellia

As my garden begins to quiet down in the second half of fall, two of my favorite plants come into their full glory.  One is fall-blooming hardy camellias, and the other is fall-blooming snowdrops.  Both are quite rare, at least in the U.S., but both are quite easy to grow and look wonderful together.  And the key to my appreciation of them is that late fall, November and December, is their main season.  When other plants are succumbing to frost, camellias and snowdrops begin their show with a fresh and pristine look.


Galanthus elwesii Hiemalis GroupThis fall-blooming form of the giant snowdrop selected at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens began flowering on November 1 this year and will be offered in the 2014 Snowdrop Catalogue.  Technically it is called Galanthus elwesii var. monstictus Hiemalis Group CSG-01, what a mouthful.


Galanthus elwesii Novemnber bloomingAnother shot of my fall-blooming snowdrops showing how they are nestled in among evergreen hellebores and Japanese holly ferns to highlight the pure white flowers.

I readily admit that I am a snowdrop addict—a galanthophile.  And I can even understand how some gardeners fail to get excited about these little white flowers in the spring.  However, in November and December when even the hardy cylcamen are done, snowdrops are so bright and cheerful that the winter doldrums disappear the minute I see them.  You can even have flowers beginning in mid-October by planting the earliest blooming species Galanthus reginae-olgae.  For more on fall-blooming snowdrops, click here.


Galanthus elwesii green-tippedAnother fall-blooming giant snowdrop selected here at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens for it’s early November bloom time and green-tipped outer segments.  It received high praise recently when I posted photos on the Scottish Rock Garden Club Galanthus Forum, even the UK galanthophiles with access to hundreds of cultivars were impressed.  Hopefully it will multiply quickly and someday I can offer it for sale.

I am working on the 2014 Snowdrop Catalogue right now and will have it posted on the website before January 1.  There are a lot of exciting cultivars available for 2014, but unfortunately they are in very short supply so if you are interested, order early.  I have written quite a few blog posts and articles about snowdrops.  You can find them all compiled in the post New Feature Article on Snowdrops by clicking here.


Camellia Winter's Snowman‘Winter’s Snowman’ fall-blooming camellia has gorgeous, shiny, dark evergreen leaves.


Camellia Winter's Snowman‘Winter’s Snowman’ produces two types of flowers on the same plant: the anemone-form flowers on the right and the more open semi-double flowers on the left.

Like the snowdrops above, fall-blooming camellias are outstanding in November and December when their large and colorful flowers are shown off to perfection by their shiny evergreen leaves.  However, they bring even more to the garden because unlike the ephemeral snowdrops, camellias are shrubs that provide the beauty of their evergreen leaves and lovely habit year round.


Camellia sasanqua Nokoriko‘Nokoriko’ is new to my garden this year, and I love its unusual flower color.  Although it is said to be hardy in zone 6, it is a selection from the species Camellia sasanqua, which is not always hardy in our area.  Only time will tell.


I have written a lot about fall-blooming camellias and featured photos of dozens of plants that are hardy in zones 6 and 7.  All my articles are compiled in the blog post New York Times Photos where I provided a link to my camellia photos that appeared in that newspaper.   To see those photos and read more about camellias, click here. If you are looking for information about or photos of a particular hardy camellia cultivar, type the name into the Search My Website area on the sidebar of my home page (if the sidebar is not on the right, click here).


Camellia Arctic SnowThis photo of  ‘Arctic Snow’ gives an idea of how many buds each camellia can produce.


Camellia Arctic Snow‘Arctic Snow’ flower

The one drawback to fall-blooming camellias is that if we have unseasonably cold weather, below 25 degrees F (-3.8 C) or so, any open flowers can be frozen and ruined.  This happened this year during the last week of November when the temperature dropped to an official 21 degrees F (-6 C) but was actually 18 degrees in my garden and as low as 12 degrees elsewhere.  However, the unopened buds on my plants didn’t freeze, and the flowers continued to open.  We are now experiencing another bout of colder than normal weather, and I am not sure the buds will make it through unscathed this time.


Camellia Long Island Pink ‘Long Island Pink’


Camellia x 'Long Island Pink'A close up of ‘Long Island Pink’ and its beautiful leaves.


Usually I visit other gardens to show you camellias.  However, this year I am highlighting the cultivars that I grow myself.  Enjoy the photos and keep warm during the extra chilly weather we are experiencing.


Camellia olifera Lu Shan SnowThe oldest camellia in my garden is ‘Lu Shan Snow’, a Camellia oleifera cultivar and the hardy camellia used by Dr. Ackerman at the US National Arboretum to develop many modern hardy camellia cultivars.


Camellia olifera Lu Shan Snow‘Lu Shan Snow’


Camellia Winter's Joy‘Winter’s Joy’ is one of my favorites because it produces so many buds and flowers.


Camellia Winter's Joy‘Winter’s Joy’


Camellia Winter's Star White‘Winter’s Star White’


Camellia x 'Winter's Darling'‘Winter’s Darling’


Camellia x 'Elaine Lee'‘Elaine Lee’



Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

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31 Responses to “Fall 2013 Snowdrops and Camellias”

  1. I just saw some very frosty camellias in San Francisco on the blog GGW. They are really having some unseasonable weather I believe. Here, we finally are getting weather in the teens.

  2. Beautiful! I’m hoping to add some Fall blooming snowdrops to the garden next year!

  3. Paddy & Mary Tobin Says:

    Your snowdrops are looking very good especially the one with the outer green markings. Paddy

  4. Kathleen Baker Says:

    Many more pictures of fall blooming camellias.  You could have all of these in your yard some day.

  5. I have early spring blooming camellias here in Maryland and often miss their blossoming since we come back to this garden in April. We just planted some camellia last January in Florida, but we didn’t check out when they would be blooming (or else I forgot to write it down). They are beautiful plants though whether or not we can watch them flower or whether we leave it to the neighbors to enjoy. Thanks for your beautiful photographs.

  6. I do like the autumn flowering Camellias so much more than the early spring types and they are such a sign of hope when everything else is closing down for winter.

  7. Lovely photos of beautiful plants. Your customers have such a lot to choose from. We don’t often see autumn flowering camellias offered for sale over here, I will have to search for one or two!

    • Pauline, I always think of there being a lot more plant choices in every category in the UK so it surprises me that you haven’t seen fall-blooming camellias over there. They are well worth looking for because they are the stars of their season. You wouldn’t have to worry about the flowers freezing so would get even more out of them. Carolyn

  8. They sure are beautiful, Carolyn. I’m still planning to try potted Camellias one of these days. I would probably keep them in my cool sunroom during the winter. It stays about 35 to 60 in that room. We bought a miniature Meyer Lemon tree this fall, and it seems to be doing well in the sunroom. It will be outside from May through October next year and then brought inside before the first frost. I would do the same thing with the Camellias because of my cold climate. Sure is fun to try new things! Yours are lovely!

    • Beth, I don’t know anything about keeping camellias inside in the winter but it would be worth a shot. It seems like they could stay out longer than October and go out before May though. Carolyn

      • Thanks, Carolyn. What would you recommend? It looks like the cold-hardy ones could withstand temps down to -10F, but does that change if they’re in a pot? Maybe I could keep it out until the temps hit 0F? Thanks for your advice about this.

      • Beth, When you are talking about container grown plants, you need to remember that the roots are above ground and will freeze if the container freezes unlike plants in the ground where the roots never freeze. Some plants can handle this and some can’t. I don’t know about camellias so I would take it inside before the container freezes solid or move it in and out to keep it from freezing, keeping in mind that the temperatures have to be below freezing for a while for a large container to actually freeze. Maybe you can look on line for growing camellias in a container. Carolyn

  9. Drooling over the fall blooming snowdrops. Are they all hardy in zone 6? I may have missed my fall bloomer that I got from you last year. I hope I did not lose it!

    • Terry, The fall-blooming snowdrops should all be hardy in zone 6 although they are iffy north of there. My records show that you purchased ‘Potter’s Prelude’ in 2012 so this would be its second fall. My PP is in full bloom right now although it is under the unseasonable early snow that we have been getting. I am wondering if your plant bloomed in 2012, but I vaguely remember that you said it did. I am sure you marked it well so check it when the snow melts. Carolyn

      • Good records Carolyn. I will have to look for it once the snow melts. With more on the way on Tuesday, it might be a while before there is bare ground again.

  10. Hi Carolyn – great post! I really look forward to the 2014 snowdrop catalogue. About camellias, do you have experience with any good performing floriferous red ones (fall or spring blooming) that are hardy in your area? Most hardy ones, like the ones you just profiled, seem to be white or pink. Thanks.

    • Klaus, So nice to hear from you. Korean Fire and April Tryst are red camellias hardy in zone 6. Spring’s Promise is not red but close to it and is a beautiful cultivar, my favorite spring-blooming camellia, and starts very early. Look for the snowdrop catalogue by December 28 at the latest. Carolyn

  11. Very soon we will be seeing snowdrops pushing up through the barely warm soil.

  12. It must be nice to have so many flowers in winter. A few years ago there was snowdrop flower in my garden in autumn. I don’t know where it came from. I have never seen it in my garden after that year. Maybe it was just an early flowering normal snowdrop?

    • Denise, There are a lot of fall snowdrop flowers here but now there’s a lot of unusually early snow covering them and more snow coming tomorrow. I have never had a spring snowdrop bloom in the fall. If it ever happens again, mark and protect the plant. Giant snowdrop bulbs bought dried often contain a small percentage of fall-blooming plants. Carolyn

  13. Unfortunately, snowdrops don’t do well this far south, but we have Leucojum (snowflakes), which are similar if less heralded. I want to plant more snowflakes around the hellebores. It is a great combination!

  14. What beautiful photographs. It will be a while before I get any outdoor blooms again. Right now I have a pristine white landscape.

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